The golden age of long-haul rail journeys might be far behind us, with air travel now being the preferred means of traversing long distances, yet trains still play an important part in our daily lives. Unfortunately now, more often than not we only take trains as part of our daily commute, which is a stressful experience that doesn't inspire to appreciate the marvelous architecture of the train station where we arrive. With that in mind we have compiled a list of twelve of the most impressive train stations in the world that you should visit at least once in your life.
Kanazawa Station - Kanazawa, Ishikawa, Japan
The now iconic entrance to the Kanazawa Station was completed back in 2005 and believe it or not received mixed reviews when first unveiled. However, locals soon changed their mind and it is now a much praised site. The entrance, which is made from wood and shaped like traditional drums, was meant to contrast with the ultra-futuristic glassed domes station behind it, thus creating a link between the past and present.
Atocha Station - Madrid, Spain
To say that Madrid's Atocha Station has had an interesting history would be an understatement. The Atocha Station was the city's first train station when it was inaugurated in 1851. Unfortunately a devastating fire destroyed the building almost in its entirety. A new station, which created by the architect Alberto de Palacio Elissagne who collaborated with Gustave Eiffel, was unveiled in 1892. The gorgeous wrought iron building can be admired to this day. However, the building is no longer in use as a train station. Instead it houses shops, cafes and even a nightclub.
Liege-Guillemins railway station - Liege, Belgium
The Liege-Guillemins railway station is one of the most important transport hubs in Belgium, as well as being one of three train station on the high-speed rail network. The 312 million euro building was unveiled to the public in September 2009. The station was built from steel, glass and white concrete. However, its most striking feature is the colossal arch, which measures 160 meters long and 32 meters high, and lies above the station as though a crown.
St. Pancras International - London, England
One look at the incredible St. Pancras Station is all you need to understand why this building so often appears on lists celebrating London's incredible and diverse architecture. The station took over 20 years to build, and when construction was finally finished in 1868 it boasted the title of the largest enclosed space in the world. The buildings gothic red brick facade is a nod the splendid architecture of Victorian London. Today, thanks to the Eurostar, St. Pancras is a port of arrival for visitors from France, Belgium and Holland.
Grand Central Station - New York, United States
Grand Central Station is not only one of New York's most famous buildings, but also one of the most famous train stations in the world. Built in 1913, it boasts 44 platforms, more than any other train station in the world. Grand Central phenomenal design is difficult to rival, from the incredible mural painted on its ceiling, to the stately golden chandeliers and antique ticket windows. The building also has a multitude of 'secrets' to discover, including the whispering Gallery and a secret bar!